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God Brings The Wounded

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“Jesus,” Stiles says, when he sees Derek for the first time, and feels his face do that thing where it tries to smile. Derek, or the weirdly fresh-faced teenage version of Derek that he is now, doesn’t flinch at Stiles’ exclamation.

He’s too busy flinching at everything else.

“Who are you?” he says. It’s about the twelfth time; Scott doesn’t seem to have thought of a good answer yet. “What’s happening? Where am I?” His voice is unnaturally high. It kind of gives Stiles the heebie-jeebies.

It’s not like he’s always been this cynical. Well, he has, but it used to be in a fun, sarcastic kind of way. Now he basically gets creeped out by everything. The stuff that used to be funny is cheesy and irritating. And Derek - the guy Stiles loved to hate, or more accurately loved to mock - is now in the ultimate place of mockery, and basically Stiles can’t be fucked.

“It’s fine,” Scott says, when they get to the car and Derek freaks out again. “You’re fine, I promise. It’s going to be fine.”

Lydia eyes Derek sceptically. “Does he even know who he is?”

“Of course he does,” Scott says. He frowns, in that truly Scott fashion. “You know who you are, right?”

“Derek Hale,” Derek says. He turns frightenedly to Stiles. “Who are you?”

“Stiles,” Stiles says. “Get in the car.”

“Stiles,” Scott says, sounding a little scandalised. “Be nice!”

Stiles doesn’t say anything, because nice isn’t really in his wheelhouse right now. He just gets in the car, and a moment later, Derek follows. Stiles scoots up to give him some room, but Derek doesn’t seem like he’s even noticed. He’s still looking wildly about, eyes skittering between them all, and for a second Stiles can almost feel just how terrified he is. He’s just a teenager, young and innocent and afraid, and a group of strangers who say they’re his friends are effectively kidnapping him.

He shuts down the thought. They just have to get Derek to Deaton.

The trip back from Mexico is uneventful. Derek eventually seems to calm down, although he remains watchful, his dark eyes taking everything around him in. They drive through the night, nobody speaking, and Stiles looks out of the window and pretends that he’s alone. Once, the car lurches over a pothole and Derek momentarily touches Stiles’ arm. Stiles wrenches himself out of the way immediately.

Deaton has no idea what’s happening to Derek. Scott is dismayed, but Stiles isn’t even surprised; when have they ever had that kind of luck? Derek has calmed down enough to demand some kind of answer, but he doesn’t like anything Scott has to say.

“What do you mean, you’re the Alpha?” he says. “Where’s my mom? I don’t understand.” For a moment, his beseeching eyes meet Stiles’.

Scott glances at Deaton. “Um,” he says. “It’s been a few years - I mean, you’re actually older than us--”

“I know that,” Derek says impatiently, sounding so much like the old Derek that for a moment even Stiles has to stifle a smile. “You explained that. It hasn’t been that long. Where’s my family?”

Stiles steps forward, and he knows he shouldn’t, but he says harshly: “They died.”

Malia makes an odd muffled noise, and Scott’s mouth falls open. But Derek is looking at Stiles. He says, softly, sounding utterly heartbroken: “What?”

“I’m sorry,” Stiles says. The words grate on his throat, but he means them. He shouldn’t have said it like that, and it shouldn’t be true. “They died. In a fire. You were the only survivor.”

There’s a horrible hanging silence in the air. Derek’s eyes are swimming with tears. Slowly, more slowly than Stiles has ever seen it happen, his face starts to change, the hair sprouting from his chin. Stiles watches, fascinated, as his teeth elongate at a measured pace, his eyes glowing blue. He lets out a long, mournful howl.

“Derek,” Scott says, but Derek turns away from him. Towards Stiles.

Stiles shifts uncomfortably. “We should get you someplace safe,” he mutters.

It turns out ‘someplace safe’ means the same thing as ‘Stiles’ bedroom’, apparently. They can’t really figure out what to do with Derek - he can’t be left alone in his flat, but nobody really wants to take responsibility for him either. Stiles volunteers just to stop everyone debating it.

The Sheriff is working the night shift, so Stiles doesn’t bother trying to sneak Derek in. He heads straight for the kitchen; they haven’t eaten in a few hours, and Stiles is starving.

“Spaghetti?” he asks.

Derek turns to him. “What?”

“Do you want some spaghetti?” Stiles clarifies. Derek frowns.

“Sure,” he says. He hesitates. “What’s your deal?”

Stiles, who had been rooting around in the refrigerator for some tomatoes, pokes his head back around the door again. “My deal ?” He puts as much sarcasm as he can into the words. “What do you mean, my deal ?”

“You’re so mad,” Derek replies, almost calmly, like Stiles’ scorn means nothing to him. “Your friends don’t like it.”

“You don’t know what my friends like,” Stiles says.

Derek ignores this. “That’s got to mean you’re not normally like this. So what’s your deal?”

He’s kind of wishing that he’d stayed in the refrigerator. “I don’t have a deal.”

“You just told me that my whole family died in a fire,” Derek presses. He pauses. “You smell sad.”

Stiles slams the refrigerator door. “I’m not sad,” he says, too forcefully. Derek raises his eyebrows. Stiles sighs. “I was possessed,” he says. Somehow, something lightens inside his chest to say it. “Last year. I’ve been a bit… That’s my deal.”

“Okay,” Derek says.

They don’t talk anymore after that. Stiles makes spaghetti, dicing onions and peppers to mix with homemade tomato sauce. He’s always enjoyed cooking - made sure he knew how as a kid, so his dad wouldn’t live off junk food - but for a meal made at two in the morning, it’s a particularly complex one even for him. He knows for a fact that there’s tinned pasta sauce in the cupboard. But he doesn’t get it out. He kind of needs the routine of slicing, mixing, flavouring.

His hands are shaking.

Derek doesn’t help. Stiles has no idea if grown-up Derek knows how to cook, but teenage Derek definitely doesn’t. He sits at the kitchen table and watches Stiles making dinner without talking, and when Stiles is done they sit there together and eat. It tastes okay - probably not as good as it should given how long he spent on it - so Stiles just concentrates on consuming it, mouthful by mouthful. Across the table, Derek seems to be doing the same.

There’s a pause after they finish, during which Stiles abstractly considers how attractive Derek was as a teenager. It’s not like he’s not attracted to Derek the adult - he’s had a fair few hate-fantasies over the years - but Derek the teenager is… well, Stiles doesn’t hate him quite so much. So there’s that.

“What?” Derek demands. He still has the epic eyebrows.

Stiles flushes. “Nothing.”

“How did they die?” It’s such a non-sequitur that Stiles blinks in shock. “I mean, I know you said it was in a fire, but… why?”

“They were murdered.” He should probably say it completely differently. The guy he was eight months ago would have been… well, maybe not sensitive , exactly, but not this blunt. But he can’t be that guy anymore. “For being werewolves.”

A tear drips down Derek’s face. “Who killed them?”

Stiles hesitates. This infringes on things that he doesn’t totally know about, but has enough of a guess that this is going to be awkward. “Kate Argent,” he says. Derek looks like he’s been punched. “She comes from a family of Hunters.”

“I know, but…” Derek starts. “They don’t… They don’t kill innocents.”

“She’s a rogue,” Stiles says. “Her brother has disowned her. They didn’t know what she did. She hates werewolves.”

Derek swallows. “All Hunters hate werewolves.”

“Not like she did,” Stiles says.

There’s a long, long silence. Derek wipes his eyes on the back of his hand. Stiles pretends not to notice. Derek says, slowly: “Who were you possessed by?”

“A Nogitsune,” Stiles says. He glances at Derek, who just waits, eyebrows raised. “It’s a creature,” Stiles explains. “A kitsune, but, like… an evil one. It’s made out of darkness and hatred.”

“And it possessed you?” Derek sounds pretty much as sceptical as he did when he found out the first time; the unspoken ‘why you?’ hangs in the air.

Stiles shrugs. “Yep.”

“What did it do?”

“Stuff,” Stiles says, and shuts his mouth hard.

Derek is watching him. “So you’ve lost shit, too,” he says. There’s something odd in his tone, something considering and impenetrable. “That’s why you’re like this.”

Stiles stabs irritably at his empty dish with his fork. “Like what? I’m not like anything,” he grumbles, but it’s half-hearted at best. He knows he’s not the same as he was before the Nogitsune. Before Allison… but he doesn’t let himself think about Allison. Not anymore.

“Neither am I,” Derek says. He pushes his chair back, the sudden sound of it scraping on the floor making Stiles jump. “I don’t even know who you are. I barely even know who I am.”

Stiles swallows. Derek is looking at him in a way that he doesn’t quite understand, and it’s making him both uncomfortable, and absurdly turned on. He says: “Trust me, when you get older you won’t even care who I am.”

“I find that hard to believe,” Derek says, and the look he gives Stiles then - eyes raking up and down his body - couldn’t be misunderstood by a three-year-old.

And he gets it. Stiles gets it. They don’t really know each other - Derek doesn’t know Stiles at all, and Stiles definitely doesn’t know this version of Derek - and somehow that makes it just right. They can be attracted to each other. They can both have gone through all the shit they’ve been through - Derek losing his family all over again, Stiles being possessed and killing his best friend’s girlfriend - and just be attracted to each other, because it doesn’t mean anything and they don’t mean anything and really, Derek isn’t even real , so--

“Okay,” Stiles says, standing up, and he’s not sure which of them takes the steps around the table, but in an instant they’re together, mouths crashing against each other completely inelegantly, and Stiles feels a fizzle of something excellent all the way through his body.

Derek kisses him frantically, one hand wrapping around the back of Stiles’ neck to pull him in closer. His tongue swipes into Stiles’ mouth, their noses bumping together, and Stiles lets himself react totally instinctively. He kisses back, lips twisting, hips pushing against Derek’s. He’s hard, desperate, and he slides his hands inside Derek’s shirt, peeling it up and off his body in a single fluid motion that only briefly disturbs the fevered kissing.

They move out of the kitchen as one, still joined together, hands everywhere, Derek’s thumbs grazing the line of Stiles’ hip bones, making him shiver and writhe against him. Stiles tugs Derek up the stairs, stumbling over his own feet as Derek tugs his t-shirt off. Their bodies are on fire, like electricity sparking between them, and Stiles can’t think, doesn’t have to think--

Derek’s tongue slips to his earlobe, his neck. Stiles pushes him backwards into his bedroom, pressing their chests together. Derek kicks off his shoes, falls backwards onto the bed. His legs come up to encircle Stiles’ waist. Stiles lets himself be kissed, feels his fingers scraping through Derek’s hair, fumbles with the zipper on his jeans. They’re together, pressed together, and it feels delicious and exciting and so, so fucking peaceful, away from the memories and the voices and the bad dreams.

They fuck, and it’s wild, and passionate, and everything Stiles might have thought he wanted it to be if he’d ever thought to think about it in the first place. Derek is strong, ridiculously strong. He grips Stiles’ hips, licks a stripe up his stomach, makes Stiles gasp and writhe underneath him as he mouth at the base of his spine. Stiles groans, long and deep, and pushes back against the sweaty weight of Derek’s body pressed against him.

Afterwards, Derek rolls off him and lies on his back. Stiles is slumped on his front, panting. He says, lazily: “Awesome, dude.”

“You sound different,” Derek says. He sounds amused.

“Yeah, well,” Stiles says. Derek throws out an arm, and Stiles rests his head on it. He feels totally relaxed, like every one of the busy intrusive thoughts that usually buzz around his head every second of the day has taken the evening off.

They fall asleep like that, not exactly cuddling up to each other but close, and the next morning when Stiles wakes up he realises that for the first time in eight months, he hasn’t had a single nightmare.

They go on like that, Derek and Stiles. Derek doesn’t particularly like any of the other members of the pack - he thinks they remind him of losing his family, of Mexico and every bad memory he doesn’t have anymore. They probably know about the pair of them, about what they’re doing, but Stiles doesn’t spend much time with any of them to find out.

They spend the summer wrapped up in each other, fucking in Stiles’ bed, under the trees in the reserve, behind the school, in Derek’s car. Periodically Derek pretends to care about reversing the de-aging curse that Kate put on him, goes to visit Deaton, helps Stiles with his research. The reality is that both of them like Derek the way he is.

Derek sucks Stiles’ cock on a regular basis. He’s funny, in an odd dry kind of way, and he’s definitely good to look at, especially when he’s naked in Stiles’ arms. They talk, all summer long, about stupid shit that doesn’t matter at all, and Stiles feels better when he’s around Derek. He just feels better. So no, he doesn’t want Derek to disappear. Doesn’t want him regaining his memories, growing up, remembering all the reasons he doesn’t like Stiles, thinks he’s an immature kid.

It’s selfish. But everything he’s doing right now is selfish. So he just lets it be.

It’s weird, so weird, because on one level Stiles doesn’t know Derek at all. This is just a tiny percentage of Derek, and they don’t talk about anything real. Not since that first day. But somewhere else Stiles feels like he knows Derek about as well as he knows anyone.

He knows Derek’s favourite colour - green - and that he sings in the shower after he’s had really good sex. He knows what movies he likes, and that he writes poems - or used to, at least. He knows the teenage version of Derek, the boy Derek was before all the crap started raining down on his head. He knows that Derek is kind, and has a sense of humour, and can be a cocky little shit when he wants to be. He knows what kind of person Derek is.

They lie together, in the grass behind what used to be Derek’s house, with their shirts off and Derek’s hand entangled in Stiles’. Derek says, distantly: “I miss my mom.”

Stiles tightens his grip on Derek’s hand momentarily. “Me too,” he says softly.

“Your mom?” Derek says. “What--?”

“She died,” Stiles says. “Years ago.”

There’s a silence. “I’m sorry,” Derek says.

“Me too,” Stiles replies.

Derek says, hesitantly: “We weren’t together, before.”

Stiles shakes his head, even though Derek can’t see him, lying together in the grass. “No.”

“Did you want to be?”

“I don’t know.” Stiles has asked himself this question already. “I thought you were hot, but…” He sighs. “Honestly, it was so impossible, I never even thought about it.”

“I bet it wasn’t,” Derek says instantly.

Stiles rolls onto his side, propping himself up onto one elbow. Derek is looking sleepy and handsome, a lazy smile on his face; he reaches up, touches Stiles’ cheek. Stiles leans into the caress. “What do you mean?”

“Don’t know.” Derek shrugs. “You smell… familiar.”

“I guess there’s no way of knowing,” Stiles says. His knuckles graze Derek’s collarbone. “Unless it reverses.”

Derek bites his lip. “Do you want it to?”

“No,” Stiles says. Selfish, selfish, selfish - but true.

And so they go on.

“You and Derek are hanging out a lot,” Scott says, hesitantly, one of the few times Stiles sees him that summer. It almost certainly means he knows. Stiles has never asked if werewolves can smell sex - mostly because he didn’t think he’d like the answer - but he’s sure he reeks of Derek.

“Yes,” he says.

Scott bites his lip, turns away. “Okay,” he says.

Stiles tells Derek about Allison a month into their - whatever they’re doing. It wasn’t his fault. He knows it wasn’t his fault, nobody blames him, nobody has ever blamed him, but--

“But it was me,” he says. “It was my body. I killed her. I failed.”

Derek holds him tight, doesn’t say anything, and Stiles doesn’t cry but feels like he could, if he wanted to. They have gentler sex, that night, and afterwards Stiles falls asleep in Derek’s arms and doesn’t dream of anything at all.

The next day, Derek tells him about Kate. “She knew because of me,” he says. Stiles had pretty much guessed that, but he doesn’t say anything, just listens. “It’s my fault they’re all dead. I trusted her.”

“Trusting isn’t such a bad thing,” Stiles says, kissing Derek’s forehead, but privately he remembers Kate and Jennifer and Deucalion and thinks that trusting hasn’t worked out so well for Derek. What he really means is that Derek should trust him .

They go to some kind of pack thing that Lydia organises, with a barbecue in Scott’s backyard and the lazy sound of summer humming in the background. Derek pretends he isn’t nervous, so Stiles holds his hand. It feels normal, and Stiles was definitely right about the pack knowing because no one blinks an eyelid. He hangs out with Lydia, and she kisses his cheek in a knowing sort of way.

Derek spends some time with Malia, which is weird in some ways because of the whole Malia and Stiles thing, but it also makes sense in another way. They stand by the barbecue eating chicken tenders and chatting in the most casual way that either of them can manage, which is to say not very. Stiles remembers with a lurch that they’re related and wonders if he should tell Derek. Even Malia doesn’t know yet.

The barbecue goes on into the evening, and by the end of it Stiles is sleepy and warm at Derek’s side, dozing off against his shoulder. Scott is watching them and pretending he isn’t, which is funny in an abstract kind of way.

“Come on,” Derek says, nudging Stiles’ cheek. “I’ll take you home.”

“Sounds good,” Stiles murmurs. Derek shifts, moving his arm around Stiles’ shoulders. “Cool.” He can hear Scott stifling a laugh.

It’s nice, feeling like the pack accept the pair of them together, especially because no one asks them to explain. Stiles takes Derek to the movies the next week, and they hold hands and kiss in the back row like they’re fourteen years old again. As they’re coming out, Stiles notices old Mrs Fawcett from down the street glancing at them, and he knows he has to tell his dad.

“For fuck’s sake,” he complains to Derek. “He doesn’t even know I like guys!”

Derek squeezes his hand. “You don’t have to tell him if you don’t want to.”

Stiles looks at him sharply. “Do you not want me to?” The Sheriff knows who Derek is, knows that he’s staying on the floor of Stiles’ bedroom, but he doesn’t know they spend most nights curled up inside each other. He’s working a lot at the moment, after the review board last year.

“I don’t mind.” Derek shrugs. He seems so much less aggressive as a teenager, although Stiles can’t help but wonder if there’s a calmer dude underneath the older Derek as well. “If my parents were alive, I’d want to tell them about you.”

They’ve not spoken at all about what they’re doing, about what it means, but they don’t need to. Being with Derek, this Derek, is easy and uncomplicated and feels good. Stiles wants to tell his dad. He’s just fucking scared.

It turns out he doesn’t need to be. The Sheriff already knows.

“Son,” he says, a pained expression in his eyes. “I’m a policeman. Not just a policeman,” he adds. “The Sheriff .”

“Oh,” Stiles says. “Yeah.” He glances at Derek, who’s hiding behind the living room door.

His dad follows the line of his gaze. He sighs. “I assume you’re being safe,” he says, in the kind of voice that indicates that he really doesn’t want to know.

“Da-ad,” Stiles whines. The Sheriff raises his hands.

“Okay, okay,” he says. “Look… I hear things. At night.” At Stiles’ horrified expression, his eyes widen. “Not those things!” he clarifies hastily. “You. Nightmares.”

Stiles bites his lip. He doesn’t look at Derek. “Yeah.”

“You don’t seem to be having so many, these days,” the Sheriff observes. There’s a silence. It’s not that Stiles hasn’t had a single bad dream since Derek’s been here - they don’t go away that easily - but his dad is right. It’s not been anywhere near so often, and the nights the dreams do come, Derek wraps him up in his arms, soothes him back to sleep, and Stiles doesn’t wake up screaming anymore.

That night, he and Derek fuck in his bed, Stiles on top, Derek’s legs around his waist. They’re pressed together, every inch of their bodies, and Stiles feels better than he has in months. Everyone knows it - his dad, Scott, the pack - Stiles and Derek are good for each other.

“I love you,” he pants. Derek grins lazily at him, reaching up to touch Stiles’ face; Stiles thrusts, making him gasp.

Afterwards, Derek gathers Stiles up against his chest, kissing his forehead. Stiles is dozy and fucked-out, and he closes his eyes, letting sleep take over him. Every one of Derek’s exhalations ruffle the sweaty hair on Stiles’ forehead. Just as he’s drifting off, he hears Derek murmuring something under his breath, but he’s too far gone to ask him to repeat it.

He’s pretty sure he knows, anyway.

The curse turns back the next day. Derek isn’t in Stiles’ bed when he wakes up, and before he really gets a chance to worry Scott calls him.

“He’s back,” he says, without preamble. “He’s at Deaton’s.”

Stiles doesn’t go. There’s nothing to say to Derek as an adult. He has no idea if Derek will even remember what happened between them while he was cursed, and even if he does, there’s a lot of reasons why he won’t want to see Stiles again. He hates Stiles. Stiles is skinny, and immature, and annoying. It didn’t bother teenage Derek - young, innocent, beautiful teenage Derek - but it bothers adult Derek. He’s always made that perfectly clear.

The summer is nearly over. It’s been a perfect summer. But it’s over.

The nightmares don’t stay gone. They should, but they don’t. He wakes up in a cold sweat most nights, the way he did before, and this time Derek isn’t here to protect him. His dad comes in, sometimes, and sits with him, but it’s not the same.

“Go and see him,” the Sheriff urges, at three in the morning five days after Derek became his older self again. “Stiles. Go and talk to Derek.”

Stiles pants away the last of his panic attack. “No,” he says obstinately. “There’s nothing to say. He’s not the same person anymore.”

There’s nothing anyone can say to that. Scott keeps Stiles updated on Derek’s progress - he’s like a drug Stiles can’t totally quit. He learns that the curse always had a time limit on it, although nobody was to know that. Kate is still on the run, but the pack have a handle on it. Derek has returned to his loft, and doesn’t really talk to anyone.

Stiles deliberately doesn’t ask if he remembers the time they had together. Scott, following his lead, doesn’t volunteer the information.

As August creeps into September, Stiles tries to bury Derek away. School starts, and it’s a good distraction, so he throws himself into assignments and projects and ignores other people. His grades are through the roof, but it’s not enough to fill his buzzing head - school never has been - so he carries on working on the bestiary in his spare time, filling in the information he knows, adding to his research,

“Stiles,” Lydia says, striding into his bedroom with her hair swinging. “This is ridiculous.”

Stiles looks up blearily. His head is pounding; he’s been up most of the night, avoiding the nightmares. Lydia, of course, looks perfectly preserved in a grey wool mini-skirt and tight blue sweater. Like she wasn’t there. Like she doesn’t get the nightmares too.

“What?” he says. His hands are shaking.

Lydia raises an eyebrow. “When was the last time you took your Adderall?”

He considers it. Or tries to. Lydia waits.

Stiles shrugs. “I don’t need it,” he says. She doesn’t even bother replying to that.

“Talk to Derek, please,” she says crisply. “I’m tired of the moping. Sort it out.”

There’s no universe in which Stiles doesn’t do what Lydia says, so the next day he takes his meds and traipses over to Derek’s loft. He’s fucking nervous, but there’s a part of the old Stiles, the real Stiles, that’s kind of looking forward to the confrontation as well. Loves Lydia for giving him the excuse to face up to this.

The big sliding door is open when he gets there, which means that Derek heard him coming. He’s standing by the window, his back to the door, and he’s broad and disturbingly grown up. Stiles feels his heart flip over.

“You came,” Derek says. His voice is tight.

“Yeah,” Stiles croaks.

Derek turns around, extremely slowly. It’s the Derek Stiles knows best, really - taller, older, broader - but it’s also the Derek he understands the least. His voice is deeper. He’s been hurt. Stiles’ Derek hadn’t, not in the same way.

It’s also clear that he remembers. Stiles hasn’t been sure, has avoided finding out, but one look at Derek - at the way Derek is looking at him - and it’s unmistakably clear. Derek remembers him, remembers all the ways Stiles has touched him, the way Stiles looks when he’s naked and sex-hazy, the secrets they’ve whispered across the pillows in the middle of the night. How hoarse his voice is, when he gasps out Derek’s name.

The way he screams when the nightmares grip him.

“You remember,” Stiles says.

Derek nods slowly. “Yeah,” he says. He pauses. “I wasn’t sure if you did.” There’s just the faintest accusation hanging in his tone.

“You don’t like me,” Stiles says. It’s a lame explanation. But it’s the truth.

Derek looks at him properly then, blue eyes wide and just slightly hurt. “I like you,” he says quietly, and Stiles can see it then, the boy Derek was inside this man. He’s just older. He’s still the same person.

Stiles drops his head. “I should have come to see you.”

“I love you,” Derek says.

The words hang there between them. Stiles can feel his cheeks heating up; he looks up at Derek, mouth falling open. Derek loves him. Derek loves him? Still loves him, even now, even as this adult person. Still wants him.

“I thought…” Stiles begins, and then closes his mouth.

Derek takes a step towards him. Just a step. “I understand if you feel differently now,” he says softly. “Everything you had was with someone different. Someone better.”

“You,” Stiles says. “I had it with you.”

“You didn’t want it to be me,” Derek says. It’s a little bit true, and Stiles hates himself for it.

“I thought you would hate it to be you, if you were… this you,” he says truthfully. “It was easier to pretend you were someone else. I knew I was taking advantage.”

Derek is already shaking his head. “You weren’t,” he says. “It was right. It felt right.”

“But--”

“I liked you before,” Derek blurts out, and then looks shocked at himself for doing so. “I wouldn’t have said anything. But I wanted you before.”

“Oh.” Stiles stands stockstill, absorbing this information. “Dude, that’s…” He trails off at the sight of a small smile on Derek’s face. “What?”

Derek smiles even wider. He’s standing right in front of Stiles now, and Stiles can’t quite remember how he got there. “You called me dude ,” he says.

“You hate me calling you dude,” Stiles points out, which is true. “I kind of do it more just to annoy you.”

“I know,” Derek says. He’s still smiling, and his face is very close. “I missed it.”

He kisses Stiles then, mouth touching Stiles’ lips, hands sliding around his waist. He’s stubbled, and it’s different, but it’s achingly, beautifully familiar. Like a half-remembered dream, a good one, that Stiles has been desperate to return to. He touches Derek’s shoulders, feels the muscles that his younger self hadn’t yet developed.

“I love you too,” he says.

Derek just pulls him tighter in response, and Stiles--

Stiles kisses Derek, and lets himself be loved.